You expect a neighborhood to be silent in the depths of night, when only the moon is awake, and even the birds and feral cats are either roosting or curled up behind a shrub, safely asleep. It’s a bit odd for a neighborhood to be silent at 10:00 in the morning, but that’s how my neighborhood was this morning, as the dogs and I took our morning constitutional.

We began, as we always do, at our own mailbox, which each dog marked, making sure all the other animals in the neighborhood know who lives there. We turned left at the end of the driveway, and walked a few feet to the corner, then turned left again. It was already almost 90, and there was no wind, so I had chosen the shorter of our two main walking routes.

We walked along the fence separating our back neighbor’s side yard from the street, and Miss Cleo’s warbling was the only discernible sound. No basso profundo barking emanated from that yard – their dogs must have been inside. We crossed the street a bit up from the corner because those neighbors have rose bushes flanking the kneeling curb, and don’t keep them well pruned. Technically since they’re in the curb strip, they should be pruned, but no one bothers.

We walked up the grassy tree-covered slope of hill into the park. It’s a nice park, more a village green with a slide and a play structure. There are no swings. I don’t understand how kids tolerate the lack of swings. Swings are essential to a happy childhood. Really.

We follow the curving sidewalk through the park, along the green space, past the gazebo. We pause at one of the benches so I can re-tie my sneaker. Miss Cleo jumps up on the bench with me. Zorro simply stares pointedly at my feet.

We cross the street at the far end of the park, and walk along that neighbor’s recently installed, unstained, unpainted fence. I can still smell sawdust as we pass by. The dogs leave “messages” on anything relatively vertical that we pass, and certain sections of grass. We reach the next corner, the farthest end of our own street, and turn left once more.

I notice many cars in driveways, but no signs of life, save for one SUV pulling out just as we get to that driveway. Two houses up, a garage door is open. A fan sits in the middle, and a table. I know that during the summer it’s left open so the kids who live there can get in and out, but there are no kids evident on the streets today. I suspect school started last week.

We cross the street again, the midpoint of the block, and we are three-quarters of the way home. Zorro wants to chase a scent across the street, but Miss Cleo is hot and wilting quickly, so we stay on the sidewalk I’ve chosen. It’s still quiet; the only sound punctuating the sunny morning is the panting of the dogs and the jingling of the tags on their collars.

We get back home, and they wait patiently (for them) while I punch in the code to the garage door. I like this keypad thing. I like not having to carry keys. They duck into the garage before the door has risen enough for me, but this is normal for us.

Back inside, the air conditioning is blissfully cool, and the bubble of silence breaks. I hear computer fans, a/c fans, and the whirring of the refrigerator. Welcome to life in the 21st century, where we can handle the dark, but the quiet freaks us out.

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